‘Building Back Better’ After the Covid-19 Pandemic

Leading Plymouth social entrepreneur warns government: Without your support we will fail the most vulnerable in our communities.

Kate Smith, co-director of Moments Café and Memory Matters in the city, said without the support provided by the social enterprise to vulnerable people in the city gaps in critical health and care support, left by years of cuts and chronic under-funding, would lead to decline and crisis for many people living with dementia.

Kate said: “Social enterprises like ours support and reduce the pressures on statutory health and care services, preventing crisis and saving government millions of pounds. We are not commissioned, yet we provide face to face dementia advice and therapy and support deprived communities. Importantly, our customers help us to make sure that support is sustainable.”

Kate and co-director Laura Walker’s ‘good food’ Café is open to the whole community. All of its profits fund an upstairs Hub providing free drop-in advice and support for brain health, memory problems and dementia.

This week, Kate was invited to speak to MPs and members of the House of Lords about the city’s response to Covid-19 and ‘Building Back Better’ after the pandemic. She was joined at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Social Enterprise by Gareth Hart, Director of Plymouth Social Enterprise Network and social enterprise bosses from across the UK.

Gareth said: “We recognise that the current emergencies we are facing such as the climate crisis, inequality, poor mental health, racism and enduring poverty are symptoms of the way that we organise our world and, particularly, our economy. The Covid-19 crisis has shown us that we need to re-think our economy to ensure we tackle all these issues more effectively.”

Memory Matters has a reach throughout Devon and Cornwall and nationwide through its cognitive stimulation therapy sessions and specialist training and is part of a regular education programme for the next generation of GPs and hospital doctors. It is one of 200 social enterprises in Plymouth who set out to create positive social change, employing 9,000 people and generating £600 million every year towards the city’s economy.

The all-party group was warned that a lack of investment in social enterprise would be a missed opportunity, with serious and far-reaching consequences.

Gareth said: “If we don’t build our economy back better, we risk even greater inequalities and environmental damage. Social enterprises are leading the way and Moments Café and Memory Matters is an incredible example. The passion and dedication of their teams is redefining what social enterprise can achieve on the high street.”

Kate said: “National and local government needs to invest in and champion social enterprise. People have clearly shown through the pandemic that they want to help each other. Social enterprise gives them a way to do that. There should be a high street Moments Café in every city in the UK, but it needs start-up investment. The push to make that happen has to come from the government.”